This year’s effort to pass a school funding constitutional amendment failed where such efforts tend to fail – the New Hampshire house.
The 87-word constitutional amendment started in the New Hampshire senate, where Republicans leaders pushed it along with a minimum of drama.
Senator Gallus? Yes. Senator Forester? Yes. Senator Bradley? Yes.
All but two Senate Republicans favored the amendment; and every Democrat save for Lou D’Allesandro opposed it. The 17-6 margin was pretty much as expected.
The House, though, is never that pro-forma, particularly on this issue. And unlike the Senate, where conservatives were game to swallow reservations about an amendment many believe affirm the Claremont rulings even as it gives lawmakers “full power and authority” over education policy, in the House many lawmakers gave full voice to their deepest concerns.
“If we are mitigating local disparities we are redistributing wealth and we are putting socialism into our constitution. I can’t support that.”
That’s Andrew Manuse of Derry. Here’s Tony Soltani of Epsom.
“This platypus aint going anywhere -- tt can’t swim and it can’t even walk. Do you want Claremont or do you want Claremont on crack? It makes no sense, I don’t want Claremont and I don’t want Claremont on crack.”
Add to this, what tunred out to be universal opposition by house democrats, and amendment’s path to 3/5thsupport became impossible. In the end, much of the argument was over whether the best course was simply to get it on the ballot and let voters sort it out. Andover lawmaker Jennifer Coffey said that’s what her constituents want.
“The bottom line is what we do now is us saying will give them the right to cast their vote in November I am going to give them that right. I hope you will, too.”
After the voting, two of the key architects of this amendment wasted little time in pointing fingers. House Speaker Bill O’Brien noted that the amendment would have passed with the support of roughly ten percent of House democrats, and said the failures of one man were to blame.
“Our disappointment extends to Governor Lynch, for not being able to fulfill our understanding was he was going to do in this compromise.”
Governor Lynch for his part, said he did what he could, and suggested that the failure of the house to pass is a product of a lack of trust within the NH house.
“To get something done like this requires and element of trust and it’s clear that trust does not exist in this House of representatives.”
The Governor added that he’s been pushing for a school funding constitutional amendment for several years and said he spoke for Republicans and as well as members of his own party in an effort to win support for the measure. House Democratic leaders would not directly contradict Lynch on this, but did note that he never talked to them.